The Entrepreneur is the True Face of Capitalism in America

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“Joe the Plumber” has gotten a lot of media attention over the past week. Depending on which side of the political fence you’re on, he is either a phony who is not even a registered plumber or a symbol for the unintended consequences of wealth redistribution policies. A Rasmussen survey taken on October 19th showed “Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats think [Obama] is right on [spreading the wealth], but 78% of Republicans disagree.”  read more »

The biggest issue remains undecided

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Unless something completely unexpected occurs, the presidential election has been settled, with Barack Obama the clear winner. Yet, except for the Republican Party’s demise, the most important issue of this era — the future of the middle class — remains largely unaddressed.

Indeed, even as social polarization has diminished — a change that is reflected in Obama’s electoral success — economic polarization has intensified. Globalization and the securitization of almost everything have created arguably the greatest concentration of wealth since before the Great Depression.  read more »

The middle class is key to any city’s future

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What are your favorite cities in the US and abroad? Chances are you like cities for their vibrancy, diversity, people, foods, smells, sights, sounds, and opportunities for work, learning, play and life.

These cities can only exist with vibrant middle classes to do the work, pay the taxes, and sustain life (including birthing the kids that are the city’s future).  read more »

Localism – What’s the Attraction?

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As I drive to work here in Wisconsin Rapids, I cross the bridge where the view of the river is stunningly peaceful, with the mystical morning mist rising off the calm water reflecting the warm early morning sunlight as it surrounds the pristine wooded islands. It takes me all of five minutes by car to make my journey to work – one of the beauties of living in a smaller community. I can get to most places in town within five minutes.  read more »

Recalibrating Destination Marketing

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In the dark days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., when traveler anxiety hit previously unknown levels, there developed among tourism marketers a new emphasis on targeting what was then called the “drive” market.  read more »

Turns Out There's Good News on Main St.

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As the financial crisis takes down Wall Street, the regular folks on Main Street are biting their nails, watching the toxic tsunami head their way. But for all our nightmares of drowning in a sea of bad mortgages, foreclosed homes and shrunken retirement plans, the truth is that the effects of this meltdown won't be all bad in the long run. In one regard, it could offer our society a net positive: Forced into belt-tightening, Americans are likely to strengthen our family and community ties and to center our lives more closely on the places where we live.  read more »

A Twice-Told Tale of Black, Brown & LAPD Blue

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This is a story of heartbreak and hope – and neither end of the tale made the news.

A curious combination of factors recently led me to these events on a street in South Los Angeles, where worn houses and skinny palm trees can sometimes trick you into seeing nothing much.

Then a crumpled baby bottle near a truck’s tire caught my eye and kicked me in the gut.

The bottle belonged to a toddler who had just been crushed to death.

The mother lost track of the baby. The baby crawled behind the wheel of a neighbor’s truck. The neighbor didn’t notice the child there.  read more »

“The Not So Big House” Ten Years Later

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It has been ten years since The Not So Big House became a surprise best seller, elevating a successful but unknown Minneapolis-based architect, Sarah Susanka, to the couch of Oprah Winfrey. Shortly after its release, the book became number one on Amazon.com, the force of which wasn’t fully understood or appreciated back in 1998. Since then she’s published five more books in the Not So Big series, but none have benefited as much from pitch-perfect timing.  read more »

Beyond The Bailout: What’s Next in the Housing Market?

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The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (we’ll call it the “Bail Out”) was signed into law on October 3rd. This, combined with the new reality in capital markets and current economic conditions, will result in some major shifts in the outlook for housing over the next few years. It is always possible that the federal government will try to do even more to fix what will be an agonizing housing problem over the next few years, but seems unlikely even Bernake, Paulson or their appointed successors will be able to change the basic story line.  read more »

The Geography of Inequality

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The global financial crisis has drawn greater attention to the world of the super rich and to the astounding increases in inequality since 1980, returning the country to a degree of inequality last seen in 1929 or perhaps even 1913. In the year 2006 alone, Wall Street executives received bonuses of $62 billion. Financial services increased from 10 percent of all business profits in 1980 to 40 percent in 2007, an obscene and indefensible development that now threatens the rest of the ‘real economy’.

Here’s what happened to income and wealth between 1970 and 2005  read more »